Yesterday, I saw a blog post asking "Is letter writing a fading art?"
It really made me think about all the things of my childhood that are now obsolete:
Waiting for a letter in the mail.
When I was growing up, long distance telephone calls were expensive. Adjusted for 2014 dollars, a 10 minute long distance call from New York to Los Angeles (east coast to west coast of our vast country) in 1950, two years before I was born, would have cost about $65.81. (For those not in the United States = that's a lot of money). So, let me explain it another way for my foreign blog fans. On this date in 1950, the minimum wage in the United States was $1.00 an hour. If you made the minimum wage, that 10 minute phone call would have cost a lot of hours of work.
So, unless it was urgent, people wrote letters to each other.
I wrote so many letters in the first 30 or so years of my life. It was as natural as breathing for me. And, in the last 10 years, I've hardly written any. Shame on me.
So, why should anyone care about the fine art of writing a letter?
1. It's a way for young people to communicate with older generations. I just got to thinking - bet my spouse's 103 year old aunt (yes, she turned 103 earlier this year) would be delighted to get a letter. Which leads me to reason #2:
2. It's a way to preserve history. Can you imagine a collection of love texts bundled and tied by a lovely ribbon, to be found in a closet years later by a grandson or daughter? I can't, either.
How about all those historic correspondences that historians depend on to get glimpses into history?
3. It makes you stand out. Who gets letters anymore? Write letters, and you are sure to be noticed. Some newspapers even want to interview you.
4. It brings out the artist in you. When I was a teen, I decorated envelopes with cartoons, jokes, and so forth. Last year, I got a gift from a blogger, and guess what? A decorated envelope. Memories! And, remember stationery? I used to get such joy shopping for stationery.
5. Pen pals? Anyone out there remember pen pals? As an adult, I had a pen pal for a while who I found through a pen pal section of a country living magazine. I sometimes wonder what happened to her.
There are even more reasons than the ones I can come up with. I won't even blog about how cursive writing is dying out. Soon, there will be few people even able to read it, meaning so many historical documents will be unreadable by the average man or woman.
Some things deserve to become obsolete - such as $65.81 phone calls.
Some things, such as writing letters, shouldn't become obsolete. And I am just as guilty of enabling letter writing to die out as anyone of my generation that has abandoned the art. Or not transmitted the art to their children. I didn't do that, either.
Do you still write letters?